Seminoles look to set the tone in South Bend

After a two game home stand that saw Florida State decimate Clemson and North Carolina State, the Noles are back on the road for four of their next five contests. The Seminoles will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 to start the trip, the game will be shown nationally on ESPN. The road trip will also feature visits to Pittsburgh, who the Noles haven’t played this season, as well as Clemson and Duke, both opponents that Florida State defeated at home earlier in conference play.

FSU snapped a three game losing streak on the road when they defeated Miami back on Feb. 1. The team needs to get off to a successful start on this upcoming streak of road games so they can close out the end of the regular season the right way. They finally seemed to settle in on the road against Miami, but they have to sustain that kind of mentality and focus every time they are away from Tallahassee.

Notre Dame has dropped four of their last six games since losing to Florida State 83-80 on Jan. 18. In that game, the Fighting Irish hit 15 of their 21 three point shots, while only connecting on 12-37 of their two point field goals. It was a remarkable, and unsustainable, effort from Notre Dame from downtown. Over their last six games, they’re averaging 8.3 made three’s per game, a little over half of what they knocked down against the Noles. For the season, they’re averaging 9.6 made threes per game.

The Fighting Irish have compiled an 18-7 (7-5) record. Offensively, they’re averaging 79 points per game on 46.5% shooting from the field, and 40% from deep. The rotation is short and loaded with veteran talent and experience. Notre Dame has seven players averaging double-figures in minutes, five of those are third and fourth year players. All four of their players who average double-figures in points per game are also upperclassmen. Bonzie Colson, a junior forward, is leading the Irish with averages of 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. V.J. Beachem, another member of the front court for Notre Dame, is putting up 15.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and one steal per game.

Their backcourt is pretty good too. Matt Farrell, a junior guard, is averaging 14.1 points and a team-leading 5.4 assists per game. He’s also the top three point shooter on the Irish, as Farrell is knocking down 44.4% of his triples. Finally, the captain of this Fighting Irish team, Steve Vasturia, is logging 14 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. These four guys have been playing together for the last three seasons now, and they’ve developed a ton of chemistry. This veteran lineup is dangerous, but the other players around them aren’t contributing as much. Between Colson, Beachem, Farrell and Vasturia the Irish score 59.4 of their 79 points, that’s a lot of their offense out of only four guys.

Florida State improved to 21-4 (9-3) after defeating North Carolina State 95-71 on Feb. 8. For the moment, FSU is ranked number one in the ACC with North Carolina at 21-5 (9-3) right behind them. The Seminoles average 84.8 points per game, while allowing 70.6 points per game. They’re shooting 49% from the field, 37.4% from deep, and 69.6% from the charity stripe. This team is deep, 11 players average double-figures in minutes (PJ Savoy is averaging 9.4 minutes), while three average double-figures in scoring.

The Noles are led by Dwayne Bacon, who’s improved jump shot has turned him into a lethal scorer, he’s averaging 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and a steal per game. Jonathan Isaac, a projected NBA lottery pick, is also having a great season. He’s putting up 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He exhibits a good stroke while also playing with the type of attitude and energy you want on the defensive side of the ball. Isaac’s main weakness is his strength, he needs to add some weight and muscle, and his frame will allow that. This kid is almost a lock to go in the top five in June with his skill and potential.

After a down season in his sophomore year when he was transitioning to point guard, Xavier Rathan-Mayes has rebounded in a big way during his junior season. He’s averaging 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and a team-high 4.7 assists. XRM has turned into a leader on both sides of the court as he’s bought into the defensive first mindset that FSU likes to show off. It’s really remarkable how improved XRM’s been with the reigns of the offense in his hands. Terance Mann is another player you can’t forget about, and he does a little bit of it all. Despite not having much range on his shot, Mann is averaging 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, two assists and one steal per game. Mann hustles on both ends of the court and makes the kind of energy plays that win ball games. He plays a big role in Florida State’s success.

Projected Starters:

– Florida State:

PG: Xavier Rathan-Mayes

G: Dwayne Bacon

G: Terance Mann

F: Jonathan Isaac

C: Michael Ojo


– Notre Dame

G: Matt Farrell

G: Rex Pfluger

G: Steve Vasturia

F: V.J. Beachem

F: Bonzie Colson

Prediction: Florida State has been unpredictable in road and neutral site games all season. In fact, the Noles are 16-0 at home this season, and only 5-4 away from Tallahassee. However, they seemed comfortable during their win over Miami and beat the breaks out of Clemson and North Carolina State once they returned home. The Seminoles seemed to have shaken off the mistakes that cost them conference games on the road against Georgia Tech and Syracuse, this team seems to have regained their moxie. FSU edges Notre Dame on the road in a close contest that helps boost the team towards the end of their regular season schedule.

Dustin Lewis

Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in English Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Writer for FSView Sports and Hashtag Basketball.

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